HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech was knocked out of the GLIAC Tournament by a hot-shooting Walsh team tonight 77-58. The seventh-seeded Cavaliers shot 15-of-27 from 3-point range to upset the second-seeded Huskies in a tournament quarterfinal game.
Tech cut an 18-point deficit to eight with 5:30 to play but Walsh answered with its 14th and 15th 3-pointers of the game as part of a 10-0 run to retake control en route to the victory.
“It’s clearly a disappointing postseason effort,” said Tech coach Kevin Luke. “In the same sense, credit has to go to Walsh because they made the shots. They played harder and wanted it more than we did.”
The game was close throughout the first half. Phil Romback’s free throws gave Tech a 20-18 lead with 6:41 to go before Walsh went on a 9-0 run. Ben Stelzer’s second triple of the half made it a two-point game at the 1:36 mark but WU answered immediately for a 33-28 advantage heading into halftime.
Tech (19-8) got two points from Luke Heller to pull within three on the opening possession of the second half. It was all Cavaliers from there. The visitors went on an 11-2 spurt over the next four minutes and had the margin up to 50-33 by the 12-minute mark.
The gap grew to 18 as Jesse Hardin hit his third 3-pointer of the half with 8:32 to play.
Stelzer came alive with nine points over the next three minutes to pull his team back within 62-54 at the 5:30 mark and energize the SDC crowd of 1,160.
WU answered with a dunk on the next possession, but Tech still had opportunities to continue the comeback. The Huskies committed two turnovers and gave up an offensive rebound over the next two minutes.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Trey Fletcher and Hardin iced Walsh’s upset.
Walsh (17-10) finished with a 28-19 edge in rebounding and had two fewer turnovers for the game.
The Huskies actually turned in a better overall field goal percentage (51 percent to 49 percent), but the Cavaliers converted 56 percent from behind the arc and 16-of-17 at the foul line for the win.
Stelzer led all scorers with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting including 5-of-6 from deep. Romback added 13 points and a team-high four assists.
Fletcher finished with 23 points and Hardin added 22 more plus a game-high nine rebounds for Walsh.
Michigan Tech, which was ranked in fifth in the latest NCAA Midwest Regional poll, will have to wait until Sunday (Mar. 8) night’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show to see if it has earned an at-large berth into the field of 64.
(Information/Photo Courtesy of MTU Athletics)